Biggest Resume Blunders and Easy Steps to Fix Them

How many times have you struggled to fit your entire career onto a piece of paper? Resumé writing should be easy, seems easy, but isn’t. People still make terrible and sometimes even hilarious mistakes that will have recruiters either laughing or shaking their heads as they toss your precious papers into the trash can. Take a look at some of the most common and ‘fatal’ resume mistakes made and how to rectify them.


Yes, you’ve heard that a million times already and yet, according to CareerBuilder, 58% of resumes have grave grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. A potential employer is immediately put off by someone who doesn’t seem to have the time to proof read a professional document, or someone with bad English.

Fortunately, these errors can be corrected by carefully reading through your resumé at least twice before you send it out. There’s a bright chance you might have written your phone number wrong, too!

It’s even better if you get somebody to proof read for you as fresh eyes are more likely to spot mistakes you might have missed.

One for all is not all for one:

Let’s face it, a resumé for a job in retail and a job in banking simply cannot be identical. Employers will spot a ‘one-size-fits-all’ resumes from miles away and will instantly disregard the application. It shows them that you don’t care enough about their company to make a separate resume. This is considered important enough for institutes like Porter and Chester

Institute to provide career services that help you focus on the entire job search process (including writing resumes) according to what employers look for in an applicant.

Practice your resumé writing skills and tailor each one specifically for the company or job position you’re applying for. If it is an IT company, include your stint as a programmer instead of that year long job as an art curator. The point is – make your resumé relevant to the recruiter and the job.

Writing an objective:

By: StartupStockPhotos

Forget it. An objective is something you’ll find in thousands of resumé templates and honestly, a recruiter has no time for it. All it does is state your aspirations in a very flat manner and there is no way of verifying that they are true by a just quick scan, which is all they get.

Don’t include an objective; let your qualifications speak for themselves.

  •  Taking records and updating files
  •  Managing employees
  •  Writing reports

Here’s an example of a simple list of duties that could apply to a number of positions. It doesn’t show your potential employer what you can do; it’s just a list of what you were supposed to do.

“Employers and interviewers love concrete data,” is a quote by author and business consultant, Marcus Buckingham. That is simple, yet powerful career advice. Instead of simply providing a list, give more details.

  • Made sure that company files were always up-to-date in an organized format to be easily referred to when needed
  • Supervised and trained 15 employees in a retail environment with 10,000 sales per month
  • Compiled sales data into a coherent document to inform the respective department heads

Getting too personal:

Whether you choose to write an objective or explain what your previous job entailed, saying, “I hope to achieve…” or “I wrote reports” isn’t considered professional. This also goes toward the ‘skills’ section of your resume. Be wary of saying too much.

Avoid putting things like, “Reigning champion for annual egg-and-spoon race for 4 years” on your resumé. Instead, include a hobby like camping or recreational basketball. But as always, try to keep it relevant to the job and company.

Six different fonts, three highlighting colors, printed on blue paper, tied with ribbons – if it’s an assault on the eyes, don’t include it. Perfumed paper and artsy watermarks are only appropriate if you’re applying for a designing job.

Stick to one or two fonts to separate headings and subject matter. Don’t use different colors to highlight specific qualifications. Keep it simple – black font on white paper, at least 11 point text, with neat formatting. Make it easy for anyone to browse through your resume and properly understand the gist of it in a matter of seconds.

Going too long or too short:

You’re probably familiar with the rule of sticking to one page and not going over two. But the truth is there really are no set rules that apply to the length of your resumé. It should be long enough to get your qualifications for the job across and get a phone call for an interview.

‘Short and sweet’ doesn’t apply here and neither does ‘long and drawn out.’ The length of your resumé doesn’t matter as much as what is in it. All you need to do is make sure you’ve shown that you are capable of fitting in at the company applied to.

When writing your resumé, pretend you’re writing an essay or a speech. It should have a beginning, middle and an end – an overview of yourself, proof of your qualifications and a summation of your qualities and abilities. If your resumé is not focused towards proving that you deserve an interview, the reader will just be reading through a list of things you’ve done in your life. He/she will not get the feeling that you know exactly

Create a goal in your mind:

For example, if you’re applying for the position of ‘Project Manager’, as you write your resume, showcase your leadership qualities and convey your ability to be efficient, smart and detailed enough to be capable of being a Project Manager. Exclude any information that does not serve

Several commonly made resumé mistakes can be avoided if you make a decent effort. Proofread, be professional, and prove that you can do it, instead of simply making lists. Keep a goal in mind and you will definitely impress a few recruiters enough to warrant a phone call.

Author: Ray Holder is an independent career counselor. Connect with him on Twitter.

Image credit: Shutterstock

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